Okay so obviously I know the Captain Marvel trailer(s) came out before the one for Avengers: Endgame. And, in the wake of my feelings on Avengers: Infinity War, I’ve been pretty open about being more excited for Captain Marvel than Avengers 4. So you may be wondering why, pray tell, didn’t I write about this trailer when it came out? Well, when I watched it I had a feeling and this feeling informed what I wanted to write. However, to write what I wanted to write, I needed to see if my hunch played out and for that I needed to see the Avengers 4 trailer. Now, having basked in the glory and excitement of both the Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame trailers, I’m ready to talk about our first look(s) at Carol Danvers cinematic debut!
Before we go any further, as usual, here’s the trailer again so you can watch it for the bazillionth time.
Since we have two trailers for Captain Marvel at this point, let’s watch the second again too. Okay? Okay.
Alright, now on the subject of repeated views, have you watched either of these Captain Marvel trailers as often as you have the one for Avengers: Endgame? What about anyone you know? I know I haven’t. I haven’t obsessed over them half as much as I already have for Endgame either.
This was my hunch, after I watched the first Captain Marvel trailer. It felt lackluster and a little generic. I started to worry Marvel was on the road to making the same mistake DC/Warner Bros did with Wonder Woman and Justice League. They poured far more into Justice League’s marketing while ignoring (relatively speaking) Wonder Woman. Now Marvel’s given me two lackluster Captain Marvel trailers and worked to break the internet with Avengers: Endgame.
Now let me be clear. I love Captain Marvel! As a matter of fact, I love her so much she was the character I chose to spotlight in my 200th post! Carol Danvers is funny and awkward and wonderful. As superheroes go, she’s strong. She’s fast too. She can fly. She can absorb energy and emit high intensity energy blasts. She’s damn near invulnerable and has a pretty high gear healing factor to handle anything that doesn’t bounce off of her. She could go toe-to-toe with Superman on his best day. She’s one of Marvel’s heaviest hitters, power-wise, but she’s also a rich, emotionally complex character.
In the comics, Carol takes on way more than she can manage, scared of letting anyone down and – superhuman abilities or not – pushes herself past her limit. She won’t back down from any fight but she also doesn’t know how to say “no” to anyone either…even when she really needs to. She’s a military woman, having reached the rank of Colonel in the United States Air Force. She’s a recovering alcoholic. She loves Star Wars so much she named her cat Chewie (yay!). She’s bold, impulsive, and certainly not one for “feelings talk.” She carries responsibility for everything on her shoulders and she feels she needs to right every wrong, stop every evil, and protect everyone all the time because (as she sees it) with her powers she can so it’s her job to do so. That’s not healthy…but for better or worse there’s something all of us can relate to in her character.
She’s a brilliant, deeply human character. I love her comic and I am so, so, so excited to see how Brie Larson brings her to life on screen. I can’t wait to see what her cinematic incarnation is like! However, I don’t think these trailers in and of themselves do anything to make us excited about meeting her. In fact, I’d go so far as to say unless you a) already know and love Captain Marvel from reading her comics or b) just get really super excited about everything the MCU puts out just because it’s the MCU, there’s nothing in these trailers to get you excited about the film. Without context, they’re just sort of…bland.
And we have no context! When the first trailer dropped, I watched it in class with my students, as we do whenever an exciting trailer debuts. As soon as Carol punches the little old lady on the bus they were gone. They were laughing and joking and chaos erupted. No one watched the rest of the trailer. Now I loved the scene. It points to the sinister nature of the Skrulls and their terrifying biological shapeshifting ability to become anyone. As characters, they’re part Invasion of the Body Snatchers and part Red Scare with a dash of religious extremism thrown in for good measure. But, unless you read the comics, NO ONE KNOWS THIS. No one knows that little old lady on the bus is a Skrull. No one knows what a Skrull is! So all my students saw was Captain Marvel hitting a woman on the bus and they didn’t pay attention to much after that nor, I’d wager, did they remember much from their first view of the trailer outside of that.
I’ve had quite a few conversations since these trailers dropped with family, friends, coworkers, and students. I’ve actively sought these conversations out too, asking people what they thought, as I’ve explored my hunch. In every single conversation (excluding the ones with people who read and already love Captain Marvel) I hear the same thing. “Who is this?” “Why should I care?” “This looks stupid.” “This looks boring.” “Who is she supposed to be?” “Is this before Infinity War? Is she going to be in Avengers 4?”
Marvel drags their feet for ten years before making a female-led superhero film because, as Kevin Feige said in his oft-quoted excuse they want to “get it right,” and we end up here? I’m sure the movie itself will be incredible. I can’t wait to see Captain Marvel soar into the MCU for the first time! And ever since I began reading her comics, my excitement for the inevitable age when Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow step aside and Captain Marvel and Black Panther become the new center of the MCU has grown. What will this age look like?!? I want to know!
But Marvel’s just given us a cliché sci-fi/fantasy trailer. We see aliens. We see laser blasts. We see banter. We get no real sense of the characters. We don’t see the Skrulls shapeshift nor are we told they can. There’s no sense that Yon Rogg (Jude Law) is as classic a Captain Marvel villain as Doc Ock is for Spider-Man. We hardly glean anything about Carol outside of the fact that she’s lost her memory. In one of my favorite moments of the trailer Nick Fury tells her, “We have no idea what threats are out there. We can’t do this alone. We need you.” That line should be chill-inducing but the trailer gives the uninitiated viewer no reason to get excited about her. Why do we need her?? Who even is she?? There’s nothing done to make us believe she is the only one who can save the day. Nor is there anything to make us believe she can save the day when any other random MCU hero couldn’t.
It’s hard to see this as anything other than another example of Marvel lacking a fraction of the faith for their female heroes that they have in their male ones and/or understanding how to use them. The fact that Black Widow didn’t get her solo debut by 2013 is inexcusable. What a waste! And while last summer’s Ant-Man and the Wasp had the Wasp in the title, it still wasn’t her movie. (I thought she stole the show! I liked the movie a lot too. I found it far superior to Avengers: Infinity War as it returned the focus to what Marvel does best, a character-driven superhero story.) But even with the Wasp in the title and playing a central role, it was still primarily Scott’s journey. I mean we have to wait (because Captain Marvel comes out in 2019) OVER TEN YEARS for a solo story with a female superhero? C’mon.
Now we’re here. This is important! Captain Marvel is such an exciting character! This should be a HUGE moment! But it feels all but eclipsed by Avengers: Endgame right now and it doesn’t seem like Marvel is doing much to change that. It’s disappointing. And it makes me sad.
All this isn’t to say I didn’t see a lot to get excited about in these trailers! I just don’t think Marvel’s doing a good job of getting anybody who isn’t already a fan of Captain Marvel excited about jumping on board. They seem entirely focused on Avengers: Endgame, leaving Captain Marvel to do whatever it does.
Personally, I’m really intrigued to see how they structure her origin in this film. In the comics from the ’70s, Carol Danvers was a supporting character in the adventures of the alien Kree warrior Mar-Vell before inheriting his powers and taking up her own costume. Judging from the trailers Mar-Vell appears (thankfully) absent. I have no emotional ties to him as a character; Carol’s the only Captain Marvel I’ve ever known. And I think he’d just make the story more convoluted. My guess (and, as always, I read no spoilers) is that Carol ends up abducted by the Kree for some reason and raised among them, getting her powers and partial Kree DNA that way. This would also explain what happened to her memories. We shall see…
Also, even if they don’t do a great job explaining who and what they are to newbies in the trailer, I CANNOT WAIT to see the Skrulls show up in the MCU! As a kid I loved the Skrulls :). I loved how they looked – classic “invading alien” with their green faces and matching jumpsuits. And the fact they could shapeshift gave them the potential to be so scary. Also, while I don’t think we’ll see the likes of it in this movie, I loved the Super Skrull! This was a Skrull warrior who didn’t just shapeshift but could mimic the powers of the entire Fantastic Four too. He was such a badass! Eventually the Skrulls created a race of Super Skrulls capable of mimicking the power of any superhero whose DNA they managed to steal a sample of. So I am PUMPED to see these zealot warriors come to Earth.
I can’t stop watching the scenes where Carol’s using her energy powers too! Visually this looks like one of the most stunning powers to come to the MCU yet. Sometimes I just pause the trailer and look at the energy arcing off of her.
I am legitimately excited for this movie! I’ve had the countdown to Captain Marvel on the board in my classroom since school started back in August :). But so far it seems Marvel’s dropped the ball in showing everyone why they should be excited too. Instead, they seem more focused on Avengers: Endgame. Back in June, while on the press tour for Ant-Man and the Wasp, Kevin Feige promised a future of the MCU’s heroes where “more than half of which will be women.” I’d love that! I’d love an MCU where Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Okoye, Shuri, Nakia, the Wasp, Captain Marvel, and maybe Ms. Marvel, Ironheart, She-Hulk, and Squirrel Girl too are the majority. But for this future to materialize, we need to see a clear spotlight shine on why these characters are the future of the MCU and why we, as fans, can’t live without them.